Friday, 15 July 2011

FAQ'd Up: Initial rant

Hi. I was planning an elaborate greeting, but fell short. This is all you'll get.

Today’s post will be the second in a new series. The first was my Tyranid FAQ rant, though I didn’t know it at the time. In this series, I will be looking at the complementary documents released by GW: their FAQ’s and Erratas. And Amendments.


Today, I will focus on a personal bugbear of mine. The 40k FAQ’s. And more specifically the fact that they are “ very much 'soft' material. They deal with more of a grey area, where often there is no right and wrong answer - in a way, they are our own 'Studio House Rules'.” (from the GW home page).

I’ll be blunt. Chickens.

By publishing these FAQ’s, GW both appears to fulfil its “duty” towards its customers, but also keeps their backs clear. After all, they are just unofficial solutions, and obviously GW can’t be held responsible if unofficial stuff is crap, right?

My cyber-voice is dripping with a delicious blend of sarcasm and scorn, if you didn’t pick up on that right away.

A lot of what will follow in this series is a result of this decision to keep things unofficial. An Errata or Amendment says “Yeah, we know this isn’t what the rules say. We’re fine with that: this is how it’s supposed to be”. A FAQ (yes, I read it out as an acronym) should be “Yeah, that’s an interesting question, but if you look on page X and page Y, you’ll see that this is the way to play it”.

This is obviously not what GW think.
It is, however, not seldom what they use the FAQ's for.

Of course, that’s my view. GW made the rules, they’re free to change them. As long as they either A: change them officially or B: change them just for larks. The Fantasy amendments are a perfect example of the first, White Dwarf for-fun scenarios of the second. The FAQ’s (for 40k) fail on both counts.

Thus, when GW answers the question whether Shadow in the Warp affects models in transports, it should be in Errata form, if that is the answer they want the question to have. If they just want to answer the question, they need to give another answer. By their own definition of an FAQ, it's not an FAQ. The rules do cover it. See the link above for my detailed arguments.

Obviously, when there isn’t an answer, the FAQ answer could easily be “Well, this really isn’t covered by the rules. Sorry. Play it like this”. Which is what GW claim to be doing. That, I am fine with. Why? They’re not changing the rules, they’re just filling a hole in them. The answer should be made in Errata form, but hey, I get it. Sometimes it just isn’t that easy.

Which is why I like the Amendments.

They aren’t just about changing the phrasing, reinserting a rule that got lost, or getting rid of printing errors. They actually mess with the rules. But they do it openly. Unlike FAQ’s which basically say “These are the rules”. Unless you read that disclaimer page. Which is wrong.

So, I might be rambling. I might be ranting. And I might still think the Kustom Force Field’s rules say it gives vehicles a 5+ save. Hopefully, I’ll be more coherent once I start poking at specific documents.

Then again, maybe not.

None of the above is helped by the fact that I read the disclaimer page after writing most of this post. Ah, c'est la vie.

Till I post again, ta.

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